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SWIFF homecoming a double-dip for filmmaker, musician

Published on

Cathy Dobson

SWIFF patrons will experience the multiple talents of Sarnia native Danny Alexander when he makes his directorial film debut and then performs live with his band on Nov. 19.

Alexander’s first full-length documentary about the pandemic’s devastating impact on the live music industry will be shown at the Sarnia Library Auditorium, followed immediately by a live performance with his band Secret Sign at 148 Front St.

Alexander, 37, grew up in Sarnia and has been a Toronto-based videographer and musician for the past decade.

“It really hit me when the pandemic started and there was nothing going on,” he said. “I had been really busy making videos and doing shows with the band and it all just stopped.”

He realized the entire music industry in Toronto was going through the same thing and, with time on his hands, began interviewing venue owners about the prospect of no live shows for months to come.

“This sense of loss was a universal feeling for all musicians. And it was also a loss for anyone who likes to go to live shows. The interviews became addictive,” he said.

Before long he had 35 venue owners, band members, entertainment pundits and municipal politicians weighing in.

“We had a chance to see Toronto become stripped down without any of the interesting stuff we love about the city,” he said.

The resulting 80-minute documentary, “No Tickets At the Door,” was picked up by the prestigious Hot Docs at Home livestreaming platform as part of last summer’s Canadian Music Week.

“I was so happy when it was accepted,” he said. “It was really the best possible scenario because I knew the film was time-sensitive and needed to be released before people were playing live again.”

Hot Docs generated media attention and positive critiques for No Tickets At the Door. The Sarnia screening will be the first in-person showing of the film, followed by a Q & A with the director.

Once the screening is over, Alexander will rush a few blocks over to Collide on Front Street to perform live music for this year’s Cineglaze.

Cineglaze is SWIFF’s two-night concert series and includes Secret Sign, a synthpop band Alexander started in Toronto with friends who had moved from Sarnia. Secret Sign consists of Kaila Moon on vocals, Christine Stoesser and Phil Baljeu on synthesizers, and Alexander on guitar.

SWIFF is all about the relationship between film and music, and Alexander points out that one of the songs in ‘No Tickets At the Door’ is a Secret Sign track called Days Bleed released this year.

“I’m very excited to play out again,” he said. ”We’ve had a lot of shows booked and then cancelled this year.”

And yes, there will be tickets at the door.


WHAT: Cinegaze concert series in conjunction with SWIFF.

WHEN: Nov. 19 and 20. Doors open at 9 p.m.

WHERE: Collide, 148 Front St. North

TICKETS: $15 each night in advance or $20 at the door. $25 weekend pass available in advance. Go to All film ticket info at

The Arts Journal highlights Sarnia’s cultural life. Send your ideas to [email protected]








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